Following the storming of the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, Donald Trump was banned from several social media platforms. Twitter banned him outright and permanently. This was a big move, considering that Twitter was often considered to be the former president’s favorite platform. Facebook suspended his account “indefinitely”. This suspension was pending a review to be handled by Facebook’s independent Oversight Board. After four months of intense review, the board has come to a decision. They plan to announce the fate of Donald Trump’s Facebook account at 9 AM EST.
Facebook’s Oversight Board is a group funded by a $130 million trust from the organization. Their decisions are said to be neutral and independent. The company doesn’t have to follow what the Oversight Board suggests, but it often does. Cases are brought before the board either by Facebook themselves or by users who have complaints about the company’s decisions.
When a case goes before the board, they start off by selecting five of their members to perform a review. They then meet on a Zoom panel to discuss the issue. They take into consideration Facebook’s community standards and consult outside experts. They review a statement from the affected user, if they submit one. And they ask the public for comments, which they take into consideration. In the case of Donald Trump’s Facebook account, the oversight board receieved over 9,000 comments. That is more than all of the board’s past cases combined.
Ideally, the board will reach a unanimous decision on Donald Trump’s account, but they don’t have to. A majority will do it. Then, the five members of the panel take their decision to the full Oversight Board. If the full board disagrees, they can overturn the decision made by the five-member panel.
So, what will happen on Wednesday morning is this. The board will decide that Facebook can continue banning Donald Trump or that Facebook needs to let him back on the platform. They may then also make some policy suggestions to the company that have come up surrounding this issue. Facebook often listens to these suggestions from the board, though not always.
Politicians and public figures around the world are bound to be particularly interested in what happens here, both directly with Donald Trump’s account and with any new policy suggestions. This case may set a precedent for how Facebook handles political figures’ accounts in the future.
Once these decisions are made, the Oversight Board will post a statement to their website. This post will include details on how they came to the decision about Donald Trump’s account.
In response to all of the banning and problems he’s had online, the former president is currently looking to create his own social media platform. This has been confirmed by Donald Trump’s senior adviser.
When Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, he famously did so in his Harvard dorm room. While he’s a character typically painted with a broad stroke of arrogance, it seems unlikely that he figured his company would one day ban world leaders from using the website he set up to connect with girls and show off to his classmates, but here we are. Life is unexpected and often stranger than fiction.